Taking a look at Boston’s pricey residential real estate market

Does a first-time homebuyer need a real estate attorney? In Boston’s uncertain residential real estate market, the answer might be yes.

According to data from the National Association of Realtors, the percentage of first-time buyers has dropped to its lowest point since 1987, at around 33 percent. Some commentators point to a tough job market for millennials, many of whom also have high levels of student debt. Boston, in particular, has a tough market for prospective homebuyers, with the median condo price close to $600,000.

In a seller’s market, a buyer may be presented with unfamiliar contractual terms. Although readers may be familiar with a seller’s request for a buyer to cover closing costs, other requests may be less conventional. For example, a seller may attempt to reduce his or her liability for property condition disclosures, perhaps with an “as-is” clause.

Some prospective buyers may attempt to save on costs by handling real estate transactions on their own, without the assistance of a real estate agent and the corresponding sales commission. Others may restrict their search to foreclosure sales. In both examples, an attorney’s review of the paperwork could be advisable.

The lending company or other entities involved in a real estate transaction may have consulted with legal counsel in preparing their standard forms. An attorney can issue spot for unfavorable terms in those documents, working to help a prospective buyer avoid hidden surprises like administrative fees or unfavorable legal obligations. If a seller did induce a buyer into a purchase of property using fraud or deceptive practices, an attorney can also advise a buyer on his or her legal remedies. 

Source: Boston.com, “Millennials Struggle in a Tough Sellers Market,” Scott Van Voorhis, Nov. 7, 2014